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Charleston County Schools, Roper open free daycare for children of medical staff

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 7:37 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District and Roper St. Francis Healthcare have partnered to create a free daycare for the children of medical staff on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school district’s 11-hour program has the staffing to watch up to 30 elementary-aged children a day.

On Tuesday, the first day of the program, 14 children checked into Operation Kid Care at Memminger Elementary School in downtown Charleston.

“We actually had caregivers when we started that said, ‘I’m a single mother. I’ve been struggling, and I’ve been trying to take care of our patients the best way I can. This is a Godsend,'" Roper Vice President of Human Resources Melanie Stith said. "We’re so thankful that this opportunity is there so they can stay on the front line and take care of our communities and CCSD can step up and help with our children.”

Upon arrival each morning, every child and staff member has their temperature taken before even walking in the door.

“Once that’s cleared, they’re brought into the facility," CCSD Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy said. "They wash their hands and they’re sent to their classroom. The classrooms are kept to a maximum of six students per instructor, and within a given day those students have no interaction with anyone else.”

The instructors of this two-week pilot program have all received extensive safety and health training during the school year and additional training before the start of this program.

A typical day involves scheduled time for completing homework, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities.

As for its cost, the families don’t have to pay anything. The custodians who are doing the cleaning and the instructors in the classrooms are already being paid by the district.

“We’ve got more productive work for folks, so they can contribute to the community, and that’ll minimize the cost for Roper St. Francis," Borowy said. "During this two-week window, they intend to cover the cost of their workers, but I will tell you it’s minimal. If you break down the cost we have to charge, it will not exceed more than $5 an hour per kid if you have all 30 kids here.”

During the day, custodians will be cleaning each classroom and the playground between every use. Teachers are also equipped with spray bottles and cleaning materials to use when they see fit.

“We are going to provide a a sanitation mist, essentially a deep clean of the school, each and every night, so that we start off fresh every morning,” Borowy said.

The program runs each day from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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